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Thread: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

  1. #1
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    Default Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    CanoeYawl and I are doing an off-season sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in central California. Usually we venture onto these waters in the Spring or Summer but November can also be a nice time for a sail. The temperature are much cooler and the winds usually are calmer but most of the crowds have gone home.

    We started at Korth’s Marina (aka Pirate’s Lair) at the intersection of the San Joaquin and Mokelumne Rivers. On the first day the air was calm and damp so we waited until mid morning before heading out. I was sailing my small catboat and CanoeYawl was in his Albert Strange designed yawl.

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    At first we just motored. There was a slight breeze but our route was against the tide as we headed down the San Joaquin.

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    Eventually we hoisted sail but still kept our auxiliaries running.

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    Turning onto Three Mile Slough the spark plug lead on my Seagull broke. After a mid channel repair we were soon underway again.

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    Last edited by Mike.Higgins.94301; 11-17-2021 at 09:35 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    We set out that morning with the intention of reaching the town of Rio Vista on the Sacramento River but because of our late start and the adverse current we decided to stop at a state park on Brannar Island. Three Mile Slough is narrow and does have barge traffic so we tied up to the dock at one of the launching ramps. This was against the rules, but it was the end of the day and the crowd was light so the park manager let us stay.

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    The next morning there was a nice breeze and the tide was in our favor so we started out under sail.

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    Three Mile Slough connects the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers. Once on the Sacramento we headed up the river to Rio Vista where we stopped for fuel and supplies.

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    Up river from Rio Vista we enjoyed a nice wind, clear skies, and that favorable tide.

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    Last edited by Mike.Higgins.94301; 11-17-2021 at 09:39 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Sailing any distance on the Delta usually requires passing through draw bridges. The route on our second day involved three bridges. This is the last bridge of the day at Isleton.

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    We stopped the second night in Walnut Grove and tied up at one of the city docks.

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    Walnut Grove is an old town (by California standards) that once served as an important river port between San Francisco Bay and the state capital of Sacramento. It also is within easy walking distance of the unique town of Locke. The levees forming the sloughs that make up Delta waterways were mostly built by the descendants of the laborers brought over from China to build the transcontinental railroad. Many of these emigrants settled in the small town of Locke, establishing an Asian culture. Over the years the original Chinese community dispersed but the town remains and still has a very good Chinese restaurant.

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    After dinner in Locke we returned to our boats and slept soundly, despite the steady auto traffic on the nearby Walnut Grove drawbridge.

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    The night sky was mostly clear and promised fair weather for the third day of our trip.

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    To be continued…
    Last edited by Mike.Higgins.94301; 11-19-2021 at 11:54 PM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Great--thanks for posting! Two of my favorite WBF boats here.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Yeah. I totally did not need to open this.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Thanks for posting! I'm looking forward to more.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Beautiful, I love off season sailing.

  8. #8
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    Default

    I hate you guys. Had to work this week, entertaining visitors, from China. Hmmm, could have taken them boating and showed them around Locke...
    Last edited by rgthom; 11-18-2021 at 02:28 PM. Reason: stupid tapatalk

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    You should have come and brought your visitors. That would have been a trip to California they would have remembered.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Beautiful......thanks for sharing.
    I once thought I was wrong, but I was wrong, I wasn't wrong.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    The fog rolled in early on Wednesday morning. There is not enough water traffic to make fog a safety issue and we were not likely to get lost. Still it did not encourage an early departure from Walnut Grove.

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    Once we were finally underway we left the Sacramento River for the Georgiana Slough. While waiting for the swing bridge to open at the entrance to Georgiana, I watched a river otter on the riverbank.

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    For the first part of the morning the air was still so we used our auxiliaries to push us along.

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    The Sacramento was a real river while the Georgiana is not much more than the creek that ran behind my house in Kansas when I was a boy. As we headed down stream the air dried out leaving a softness to the lighting.

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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    The Georgiana Slough ends at the Mokelumne River. Just before leaving the Georgiana we passed through a second swing bridge with a friendly operator.

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    By now it was noon and a light wind started to blow.

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    (For some reason the website decided to invert this photo)

    Once on the Mokelumne we took the south fork and headed east. The wind was light and fickle but enough to allow us to turn off our noisy auxiliaries.

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    On a long tack in the narrow channel I fouled in the weeds that choke the banks of the Mokelumne and fell behind. Eventually the light wind failed completely. My outboard would not start so I had to accept a tow from CanoeYawl. It was an ignominious end to a wonderful day. Fortunately my outboard problem was a clogged carburetor jet, which was easily fixed, once we reached our destination. Seagull outboards may be noisy, smelly, and cantankerous, but they are easy to fix.

    That evening we tied up at a dock in Terminous, on the shores of Little Potato Slough. According to the weather prophecy, the sunset we watched would be last we would see of the sun this week. Still, it was a beautiful sunset.

    Attachment 1000138642E3E8-4530-48BE-A41C-67964963135D.jpg

    To be continued.
    Last edited by Mike.Higgins.94301; 11-18-2021 at 10:12 AM.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Do t know why, but the images are not showing in this last posting.

    EDIT: The images now appear after they have been re-entered but the “Attachment xxxxx” labels from the earlier edit still appear.
    Last edited by Mike.Higgins.94301; 11-18-2021 at 10:16 AM.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Wonderful account, and we can't have too many photos of those beautiful boats.
    -Dave

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Terrific. Is there a speed limit on the river system, no wake or 5 knots? Just wondering about other traffic, wakes at the docks etc.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Often there are signs limiting speeds to 5 mph. Sometimes the speed restriction is for “no wake”. These restrictions are posted near docks or developed areas. Speed restrictions also appear in areas where there are concerns about damage to the shoreline. For example there was a “no wake” restriction for the upper two miles of the Georgiana Slough. Most boaters respect these restrictions.

    B4F23FDA-BE5C-415C-AD67-D6F0EADC810A.jpg

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike.Higgins.94301 View Post
    Do t know why, but the images are not showing in this last posting.
    I find that when it happens, I need to re-open the post for editing. Then I delete the photos, and re-insert them. A bit tedious, and sometimes it takes more than one try, but it eventually works.

    It helps if you resize the photos to smaller versions before posting here.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike.Higgins.94301 View Post
    Often there are signs limiting speeds to 5 mph. Sometimes the speed restriction is for “no wake”. These restrictions are posted near docks or developed areas. Speed restrictions also appear in areas where there are concerns about damage to the shoreline. For example there was a “no wake” restriction for the upper two miles of the Georgiana Slough. Most boaters respect these restrictions.

    B4F23FDA-BE5C-415C-AD67-D6F0EADC810A.jpg
    Thanks Mike, I'd hoped it was something like that.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    this is the single coolest thread anywhere on the forum in a long time
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Thanks for sharing the adventure Mike. I know your boat is trailerable. What about the yawl?

    -Bruce
    Tales from the land and sea: http://terrapintales.wordpress.com/

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Thanks for posting.
    Elect a clown expect a circus

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Bateau View Post
    Thanks for sharing the adventure Mike. I know your boat is trailerable. What about the yawl?

    -Bruce
    Old pic,
    but trailering is no problem...


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Great thread! Was that trailer shot from one of your cross country trips?

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Two very cool/beautiful/fun boats! They each, in their own way, stir up my daydreaming/sketching* juices. Thanks for sharing.

    * I need a small marina (in a variety of locations) to sail all the boats I wish I had. Life is just not long enough and I can’t be in all the places I want to be for the time and seasons I want to be there. This thread helps just a little bit more though.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Our original plan was to sail five days, but all sailors know the difference between what we plan and what happens. Rain and continued light winds were forecasted for Friday. Therefore, we decided to make our way back to our cars on Thursday and end the trip after four days on the water.

    1. Into the fog.jpg

    We left Terminous under a thin cloud cover, to which fog was added after a mile or so. The lack of wind meant we were under power. Fortunately, the repair made to my Seagull the night before was effective. So my auxiliary was back to running smoothly. This photo shows one of the numerous fishing camps located on this portion of the Potato Slough.

    3. Running as it should.jpg

    The shoreline of the Potato Sough is less developed than most of the channels in the Delta. For long portions of our route, the banks of the waterway were covered with natural foliage and channel itself was dotted with islands of vegetation. The scenery must have been what the Delta looked like before the levees were added in the late nineteenth century.

    2. Glimpse of the past.jpg

    We enjoyed the view in the soft morning lighting, but all of that growth meant constant vigilance for underwater vegetation. One of the challenges of cruising the Delta is avoiding the aquatic weeds that can clog an outboard. More than once I was forced to stop and clear my weed-choked propeller.

    By late morning we reached the end of Potato Sough and our time on the water. The tide was slack and the winds were calm so we shutoff our auxiliaries and floated silently on the water. All around us we could see and hear the waterfowl that live on the Delta. It was a unforgettable moment and a fitting end to what had been a great cruise.

    4. Last stop.jpg

    Finally, here is a map of our route, superimposed on NOAA chart 18661.

    5. Map.jpg
    Last edited by Mike.Higgins.94301; 11-19-2021 at 12:32 PM.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Really nice! Thanks for sharing that guys!

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    Old pic,
    but trailering is no problem...

    Wow! How do you step that mast?!
    Tales from the land and sea: http://terrapintales.wordpress.com/

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Bateau View Post
    Wow! How do you step that mast?!
    Deck stepped tabernacle... piece of cake
    All the standing and running rigging remain attached during transport. I used to just push it up by hand until I was in my 70's and started worrying about what if? Now we have a small bipod and winch rigged up. When it is up, the jib is already on and it is ready to bend the main on. It takes about 1-1/2 hours to rig it to sail away (like a ship in a bottle!)
    The main mast (solid Sitka Spruce) weighs 60 lbs, the mizzen is also very light, maybe 25lbs, keel stepped.

    That pic of my old Ford (which I still have) was taken at San Jose Airport when I was picking up my accomplice for our annual gunkhole trip. Traveling directly from the airport to the launch ramp!
    The boat is almost thirty years old now... Wow

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    A really enjoyable read, thanks for sharing!

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Thank you both for keeping my spirits up. We've been in a cycle of heavy rain/small craft advisories or 48 degrees and virtually no wind for weeks now.

    I love the PNW...I love the PNW...I love the PNW...
    Steve

    If you would have a good boat, be a good guy when you build her - honest, careful, patient, strong.
    H.A. Calahan

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    We’re glad to help. As a former Seattle resident I remember why green is the default color up there. Also, while our temperatures were a little higher than yours, we only had sailable winds on one of the 4 days.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Off-Season Sail on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Fantastic post, thank you.
    I'm high on life. The trick is to grind it up and snort it.

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